Day 48, Half.com, OR (Halfway, OR) – Baker City, OR 60 miles (3658 total)
July 28, 2008
Time on bike: 6:28:50
Daily Ascent: 3082 ft (51 ft/mi)
Elevation at days end: 3500 ft
Max: 42 mph
From Halfway to a half day. Boy! Last night! What a night! I camped out in the city park at the waitresses suggestion. It was quaint. Only a playground next to a Lions Club picnic shelter. I set up the tent and crawled in. Shortly thereafter I heard a dog sniffing around and growling. It was a growl as if to say, “There’s someone here, I can smell him! Someone in MY park!” He was close and I knew that all that separated me and whatever kind of dog this was, was the thin canvas of the tent. I waited in silence for something to happen. Preferrably for the dog to move on. A few more low growls and he eventually did. That was followed by a “Hup! Hup” and a “clip-a-tee-clop, clip-a-tee-clop” as a girl on a horse meandered by the park… “Weird,” I thought. So I fell asleep. The dog came back and growled at my invisible self some more before deciding to move on for the night.
Then at around 1:30 am an ENORMOUS rain storm hit all of a sudden! No sprinkles or anything, just a pelting on my tent! I sat straight up in bed ready to hold my poor tent up if necessary, but the rain was funny. It was just on the back half of my tent and I thought in that moment that it must be a very slow moving storm system…
Then it stopped. As quickly as it started. But there was a sound left behind. The sound of water hitting the tree behind me… It wasn’t a storm! The sprinklers in the park had come on!!! I debated whether to try to just go back to sleep, but the idea of pounding ‘rain’ hitting my tent every 5 minutes wasn’t something I figured I could sleep through, so I got out and in-between showers I uprooted the stakes and moved my tent, though it wasn’t far enough. I had to do it a second time before it was just right. Ah the adventures continue!
This morning I biked 12 miles to the next town, 8 of which was up a steep incline. There I found wireless internet and a friendly waitress. I was also noticing for the first time some chaffing which I hadn’t had this whole trip. If you’re unfamiliar with the word ‘chaffing’, let me just say it’s where skin rubs together and creates a rash. I found some petroleum jelly in town and applied and continued. The next 45 miles were generally up-hill and through the dessert, sagebrush area. The chaffing, unfortunately, worsened.
Somewhere in the midst of the climbing, sun, sagebrush, and heat I decided that I was going to take a half day and stop in Baker City and then maybe even take the next day off entirely to heal up. No sense cycling in pain! I stopped at Baker City Café for a sandwich and was very warmly greeted and served by the gals working there. I had 3 servers in a sense. The first one took my drink order, the second my food order and the 3rd got my refills. I lingered to do some computer work and before I knew it they were mopping the floor. Apparently they had closed at 3pm and it was now 3:30 and there I was working away.
I apologized for my delinquency and got to talking to Brandi, the owner of the café. She was super sweet and we chatted about the café and the town. I was asking if there was a campsite around or at least a place to get a shower and she jumped on the phone and began to make some calls. Before I knew it she had me set up at the YMCA for a shower for $6 which she insisted on paying for! She said that she wanted to leave a good impression on “small town people” as she said it. She also told me to get in touch with Bev, a local bicycle enthusiast who owned an organic market just down the street next to the Y.
I enjoyed my 1st shower in a week, sorry to say, (I had sponge bathed between times) and then sought out a place to put up my tent for the night. Upon meeting Bev I could tell that she was an enthusiastic soul, enthusiastic about life in general and possessing a special passion for cyclists. She immediately began talking about bike racing and a race that was put on in Baker City for cyclists that was done in 3 stages (3 days) and how she wanted to compete in it sometime before she turned 50, “I’m gonna hit 48 soon, so I’d better do it straight away!” She even had a wall of fame with magazine clippings of cyclists up on the wall in her market! I grabbed an apple and a vanilla cream soda. “Those apples are a bit tart, but they are organic. I’m just warning you. They’re great in apple pies!” I then asked if she knew of a place I could camp and she merrily offered her back yard for me to camp in, so here I am, sitting on an Adirondack chair in her back yard just feet away from a bustling stream flowing into downtown.
I’d hate to take a day off tomorrow. I haven’t done so during the entire trip. But if I have to then Baker City, OR looks to be a great little “small town” to have a day off in.